Take care of yourself

Another coronavirus rise: Your anxiety, your inactivity and your fridge. Here’s what to do.

You’re worried about coronavirus, both as a health peril and a financial threat. You’re out of sorts because you’ve joined the emergency work-from-home brigade. Nothing feels certain, except your powerlessness. You seek solace and companionship from a friend you don’t often see during normal work hours: the refrigerator.

We’re with you, fellow work-at-homers. Except pardon us as we head to the kitchen for some leftover ribs from last night’s takeout that’ll make a comforting second breakfast.

Now back to the theme of health and wellness during a national crisis. Beyond the life-and-death risks of COVID-19, dealing with this pandemic is upending all aspects of life as you knew it. News reports are freaking you out. You’re anxious about your own health and family members’. Long-planned events, from spring-break trips to children’s birthday parties, are imperiled. Options for coping feel limited, but, yes, the fast-food drive-thru is open.

These ripple effects of coronavirus are real, and signs of stress are normal: excessive worry, irritability, insomnia, an increase or decrease in energy, having difficulty giving or accepting help, wanting to be alone, an increase in use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Those are some of the impacts, according to a federal government fact sheet with the alarming headline: “Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks.”

A few deep breaths and we’ll continue. The best advice we’re seeing starts with acknowledging the strange reality of the moment, taking all precautions possible to keep yourself and family members safe, and doing what you can to protect the public at large by contributing to the defeat of this virus. That’s why we’re all social distancing — yet the isolation contributes significantly to stress. You’ve suspended contact with friends and co-workers. It’s just you, your TV and your anxiety-inducing social media feed.

So let’s talk about caring for yourself. We endorse the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s self-care advice, which suggests taking breaks from monitoring the news and obsessing over social media. Come back later to visit chicagotribune.com; we’ll have updates for you. Other sound advice we’ve collected:

≤ Take care of your spirit. Keep in touch with friends. Meditate if that helps. Unplug and unwind with other activities you enjoy. Read for pleasure (perhaps avoid zombie lit).

≤ Take care of your body. Drink plenty of water and cut back on alcohol consumption. Keep to a normal schedule of waking and going to bed, and get plenty of sleep. “Maintaining some kind of schedule can be really impactful in a positive way for our mood,” Andrea Graham, an assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told the Tribune.

≤ No, really take care of your body. Eat healthy. Slap yourself before scarfing down five cookies while reading tweets. Watch it with fatty food that may feel soul-satisfying but adds pounds. Instead, dive into exercise. Do what you can and do it daily, whether it’s stretching, walking or jogging.

Remember, there’s no coronavirus on the running path. Going there will shed some calories, clear your head and lift your spirit.

The coronavirus crisis is real. So is the stress. Take care of yourself.

* Guest editorial from the Chicago Tribune in Chicago, Ill.


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